The Function of Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 767 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 767|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. The Symbol of Righteousness
  2. Impact on Other Characters
  3. The Tragic Fate of Rebecca Nurse
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

Rebecca Nurse, a prominent character in Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, plays a crucial role in the development of the plot and the exploration of themes. As a respected member of the Salem community, she embodies the values of honesty, morality, and compassion. This essay will analyze Rebecca Nurse's function in the play, focusing on her role as a symbol of righteousness and her impact on the other characters. Through an examination of her interactions with various individuals and her ultimate fate, it becomes evident that Rebecca Nurse serves as a moral compass and a catalyst for change in the face of injustice.

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The Symbol of Righteousness

Rebecca Nurse's character symbolizes righteousness and serves as a beacon of morality throughout the play. Her unwavering faith and adherence to her principles make her a respected figure in the community. In Act 1, Rebecca Nurse is introduced as a voice of reason when she tries to calm the hysteria surrounding the girls' accusations of witchcraft. She asserts, "Let us rather blame ourselves and [...] find what's good in it" (Miller, 20). This statement highlights her belief in self-reflection and personal responsibility, contrasting with the tendency of other characters to shift blame onto others.

Furthermore, Rebecca's role as a symbol of righteousness is emphasized when she is accused of witchcraft herself. Despite her arrest and subsequent trial, she maintains her composure and refuses to confess falsely. This unwavering commitment to the truth and her principles further solidify her status as a symbol of righteousness. The audience is left with the impression that Rebecca Nurse's moral integrity is unassailable, even in the face of severe adversity.

Impact on Other Characters

Rebecca Nurse's presence in the play has a profound impact on the other characters, forcing them to question their own beliefs and actions. One character greatly influenced by Rebecca is John Proctor. Proctor, initially skeptical of the witchcraft accusations and reluctant to get involved, becomes more engaged in the fight against the injustice of the trials after Rebecca's arrest. He realizes the need to stand up for what is right, regardless of personal consequences. In Act 2, he exclaims, "I have once or twice plowed on Sunday. I have three children, sir, and until last year my land gave little" (Miller, 60). This change in Proctor's attitude can be attributed to Rebecca's steadfastness in the face of false accusations.

Similarly, Reverend Hale, a well-respected authority figure, is also influenced by Rebecca Nurse. Prior to her arrest, he plays a leading role in the witch trials, believing himself to be on a righteous mission. However, as he witnesses the injustice inflicted upon Rebecca, he begins to question the validity of the trials and reconsiders his own role in perpetuating the hysteria. In Act 4, he pleads, "I denounce these proceedings. I quit this court!" (Miller, 130). This dramatic shift in Reverend Hale's perspective is a direct result of his interactions with Rebecca Nurse, reinforcing her role as a catalyst for change.

The Tragic Fate of Rebecca Nurse

Rebecca Nurse's ultimate fate in the play serves to highlight the tragedy and injustice of the Salem witch trials. Despite her innocence and the overwhelming evidence in her favor, she is condemned to death. This outcome emphasizes the irrationality and hysteria that gripped the community during this dark period in history.

Rebecca's execution also serves as a turning point in the play, sparking a sense of collective guilt and remorse among the remaining characters. As Elizabeth Proctor reflects, "The stench of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlots' cry will end his life" (Miller, 145). This statement encapsulates the impact of Rebecca Nurse's death on the community and serves as a reminder of the consequences of unchecked hysteria and the persecution of innocent individuals.


Rebecca Nurse's role in The Crucible is multi-dimensional and central to the exploration of themes such as morality, justice, and the consequences of unchecked hysteria. As a symbol of righteousness, she inspires other characters to question their own beliefs and actions. Her tragic fate serves as a catalyst for change and prompts a reevaluation of the community's actions. Through her unwavering integrity and unwavering commitment to the truth, Rebecca Nurse emerges as a moral compass in a world consumed by fear and paranoia.

Ultimately, Rebecca Nurse's function in The Crucible extends beyond her individual character. She represents the collective conscience of a community in crisis and forces the audience to reflect on the dangers of blind adherence to irrational beliefs. Her legacy in the play remains a reminder of the importance of maintaining one's principles, even in the face of overwhelming adversity.

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Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Books, 1995.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Function of Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 23, 2024, from
“The Function of Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
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